PHYTOPLANKTON AND NUTRIENT DYNAMICS WITH A FOCUS ON NITROGEN FORM IN THE ANACOSTIA RIVER, IN WASHINGTON, D.C. AND WEST LAKE, IN HANGZHOU, CHINA
Jackson, Melanie Leigh
Glibert, Patricia M.
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Nutrient loading has been linked with severe water quality impairment, ranging from hypoxia to increased frequency of harmful algal blooms (HABs), loss of fisheries, and changes in biodiversity. Waters around the globe are experiencing deleterious effects of eutrophication; however, the relative amount of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) reaching these waters is not changing proportionately, with high N loads increasingly enriched in chemically-reduced N forms. Research involving two urban freshwater and nutrient enriched systems, the Anacostia River, USA, a tributary of the Potomac River feeding into the Chesapeake Bay, and West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, was conducted to assess the response of phytoplankton communities to changing N-form and N/P-ratios. Field observations involving the characterization of ambient phytoplankton communities and N-forms, as well as experimental (nutrient enrichment) manipulations were used to understand shifts in phytoplankton community composition with increasing NH4+ loads. In both locations, a >2-fold increase in ambient NH4+:NO3- ratios was followed by a shift in the phytoplankton community, with diatoms giving way to chlorophytes and cyanobacteria. Enrichment experiments mirrored this, in that samples enriched with NH4+ lead to increased abundance of chlorophytes and cyanobacteria. This work shows that in both of these systems experiencing nutrient enrichment that NH4+ supports communities dominated by more chlorophytes and cyanobacteria than other phytoplankton groups.